I love fabric. I love the immense range of patterns, textures and colours, and getting to play with different combinations. Most people aren’t like this and instead find the number of options overwhelming and confusing. Knowing where to start and how to select the right one can be daunting, so we are going to bring some clarity and insight to this world.
Obviously, when you start looking at fabrics you know what they are going on, or sewn into; i.e. a sofa vs. drapes. Upholstery requires heavier-weight fabric compared to drapes and we will stick to explaining upholstery fabrics here. You also need to consider how much use the sofa or chair will get, and who will be using it. Kids are harder on furniture than adults generally. What sort of style you have will help narrow down your selections: a funky geometric print will not work in a formal, traditional space.
Fiber content is very important. Natural fibers, such as cotton, are durable, very absorbent (resist static), strong, resists pilling, and very versatile, but will stain, burn and wrinkle easily, and are not the best in sunlight. Synthetics, such as polyester, nylon, rayon, and acrylic, can vary. For strength and resiliency (return to original shape), nylon and polyester are great. They are stable and will resist wrinkling, but are poor at resisting static and will pill easily. Rayon can be made to imitate cotton, wool, silk, and linen, however it is not that strong, resilient, or wrinkle resistant. It is best blended with other fibers. Acrylic can look like wool and is soft and warm, but it is also better blended to help its low resistance to abrasion, pilling, and issue with static.